Like a bear cub trying to determine what to do with the porcupine he has cornered, the Tallahassee Charter Review Committee continued to tiptoe around the major issues until the final 45 minutes of their 5th meeting today when the positions of the committee members were revealed.
The issue that garnished the most attention was the role of the Mayor – should it be strong or weak. Most members favored the current leadership Mayor to one with more political power.
On the issue of consolidation, most members argued for “functional” consolidation, but no one seemed ready to make a strong argument for full consolidation.
The need for separate authorities or boards for the airport and the utilities seemed to be the most contested issue. Three or four members voiced support for, or further research into, the need for separate authorities, while two clearly voiced opposition.
More than three committee members indicated that their was a need for stronger leadership on the big issues by City Commissioners.
Listed below are positions of some of the committee members:
Everitt Drew led the charge into staking out positions by arguing for an airport authority, against consolidation and at-large elections with district representation for City Commissioners.
Drew was followed by TCC President Bill Law, who seemed to be frustrated with the inability of the committee to get their arms around “big issues”. He noted high electric rates, the lack of transparency with utility finances, low wages for a highly educated work force, and the failure of a number of significant economic development projects as his concerns.
Sheila Costigan agreed with Mr. Law on a number of points and commented on the absence of media coverage and the lack of information being disseminated about the issues discussed by the Committee. She spoke for an airport authority and for functional consolidation.
David Reid spoke against separate authorities for the airport and the utilities as did Rev. Alphonso Whitaker.
Dr. Henry Lewis of FAMU commented about the economic impact of high electric rates and of a struggling airport.
Sean Pittman’s comments centered around the need to know more about the pros and cons associated with an airport authority and a utility board. He said these issues needed to be “workshopped.” He also indicated that he preferred a structure of government that encouraged leadership and debate among City Commissioners.
The citizens of Tallahassee will get to offer input on March 16, 2009.